"What's your favorite Huell Howser episode?"
That's a question we don't get tired of asking, because it seldom results in a simple answer. No, people are much more likely to tell us why they connected with a given episode, why it spoke to them and, really, why Huell himself spoke to them. It's because Huell Howser had such a special relationship with his viewers that KCET is giving them a chance to remember him and celebrate the episodes they love most.
Yes, we're airing a Huell Howser marathon, and yes, you get to pick which episodes will be part of it.
Below, you'll see a list of 50 episodes. You get to vote for the five. (I mean, we could hardly expect Huell Howser superfans to pick just one episode.) Don't see your go-to episode? Write it in at the bottom. Don't recognize the episode by title? Click on it to read more about that episode.
On Sunday, January 5, we'll air the top vote-getters from 7 p.m.-11 p.m. on KCET. Following that, the top five will air again the following week in KCET's regular weekday Huell Howser timeslot -- 7:30 p.m.
Watch full episodes of Huell's shows on our video portal or on the Chapman University archive. Check out clips from Huell's pre-KCET days in our Retro Huell section. And if you haven't yet, take a moment to sign Huell's memorial page.
Monday @ 7:30PM -- "Lucky Baldwin Railcar"
Lucky Baldwin was one of the great characters of Southern California history during the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. He was a pioneer and real estate tycoon who owned the land that would become Arcadia, Monrovia and Baldwin Hills. With his vast wealth, one of the luxuries he indulged in was a grand railcar for traveling. Huell gets a special tour of this lavish car that housed a full staff, sleeping quarters, dining area, kitchen and music room. For more on Lucky Baldwin, check out KCET Departures' profile on him here and a feature on his labor force here.
Tuesday @ 7:30PM -- "Classic Arts Showcase"
It's the last episode of "California's Gold" ever produced. Huell tours the Glendale office of "Classic Arts Showcase," a free cable TV program comprised of video samples from the worlds of ballet, opera and theater. This program is the vision of philanthropist Lloyd Rigler, who practiced the cost-effective use of resources in order to achieve the greatest good. (Find out when you can next watch "Classic Arts Showcase on KCET by clicking here.)
By the way, can I nominate this series as the show whose theme song most perfectly captures the spirit of the show? It's not just the music -- carnival sounds that build into something you might hear in an old educational film that then verge on frantic -- but the special effects, too. They're just so of-the-era in the best possible way. And then there's the ending, with Huell arm-in-arm with his special guests -- Miss Rebecca and Miss Rosa, who need no introduction, truly -- as he escorts them from WSM-TV motor home and onto the set of the show.
Go ahead and give the above video a click. It's well worth the 27 minutes you'll spend watching it. (Think one of Huell's Videologue collections, only with more accents.) If you're in a rush, however, here are the highlights of this strange but wonderful trip into Huell's past.
1:55: "I'm just going to sit here and rock all my troubles away. ... These are much better than tranquilizers. This is great." The tranquilizing effect may explain the ladies' rather blasé take on the gas shortage.
Monday @ 7:30PM -- "Aerial L.A."
Have you ever wondered how news crews get such good shots from a helicopter? How they can zoom in on a backyard while flying in a machine that rattles your teeth? Well, Huell goes in the air with Helinet to see the latest in cutting edge helicopter mounted cameras. You'll be amazed at how close they really can get and you may never walk around in your underwear in your backyard again!
Watch a preview:
Tuesday @ 7:30PM -- "Produce and Floral Expo"
Huell steps into the Fresh Produce & Floral Council Expo, an exciting one-day show filled with over 170 exhibits and attended by produce and floral professionals from every part of the industry.
Watch a preview:
Monday @ 7:30PM -- "Bunny Museum"
Join Huell as he hops over to the Pasadena home of Candace Frazee and Steve Lubanski, who have turned their house into The Bunnny Museum, a museum filled with almost everything bunny! Over 21,000 bunny collectibles: furniture, light fixtures, kitchenware, toiletries, books, and games are all bunny-themed. And lounging around their house, they have seven real bunny pets that do not live in cages -- and are litter box-trained!
Watch a preview:
Tuesday @ 7:30PM -- "Caltrans Building"
Huell gets a tour of the new Caltrans district headquarters in downtown Los Angeles designed by architect Thom Mayne.
KCET is broadcasting a unique five-part documentary series, 'Bridge to Iran,' that will be exploring the rich lives of Iranian citizens and the vibrant Persian culture. With more than half a million Iranians living in Los Angeles, the series fills a knowledge gap by providing Angelenos with an insider's view on modern Iranian society, through documentaries by Iranian directors, living both inside Iran and within the Iranian diaspora. The series begins on Tuesday, Oct. 29 at 9 p.m. and will air every Tuesday until Nov. 26.
Bridge to Iran presents memorable characters, confronted with a wide range of obstacles and opportunities as they navigate their lives through a changing social and political landscape. The series is a direct response to the cultural misunderstandings and political tensions that have developed between Iran and the U.S. since the Iranian revolution.
Host Parisa Soultani, who adds layers of meaning through personal interviews with each filmmaker, introduces each program in the series. Episode descriptions and airdates are as follows:
Tuesday, Oct. 29 @ 9PM: The Queen and I
The Queen and I is Nahid Persson Sarvestani's thought-provoking documentary about her friendship with Queen Farah, the wife of the Shah of Iran, demonstrates how even those at most odds -- politically, idealistically -- can find middle ground and understanding.
Tuesday, Nov. 5 @ 9PM: Iran: A Cinematographic Revolution
Iran: A Cinematographic Revolution traces the development of the Iranian film industry, which has always been closely intertwined with the country's tumultuous political history.
KCET is honoring Native American Heritage Month in November with several programs that celebrate how Native Americans have shaped the nation. From stories of hardship and triumph to influential leaders and historical events, KCET pays tribute to the vast contributions American Indians have made in enriching our country's identity and cultural heritage.
Friday, Nov. 1 @ 9PM: Sitting Bull: A Stone in My Heart
This award-winning documentary makes extensive use of Sitting Bull's own words, giving the viewer an intimate portrait of one of America's legendary figures in all his complexities as a leader of the great Sioux Nation. Sitting Bull's words, as portrayed by Adam Fortunate Eagle, dominate the story, augmented by a narrator's historical perspective, including more than 600 historical photographs and images, and a compelling original music score. The film brings to life the little-known human side of Sitting Bull as well as the story of a great man's struggle to maintain his people's way of life against an ever-expanding westward movement of white settlers. It is a powerful cinematic journey into the life and spirit of a legendary figure of whom people have often heard of but don't really know.
Thursday, Nov. 7 @ 10:30PM: Defending the Homeland: Native Americans in the United States Armed Forces
From the American Revolution to World Wars I and II to present day Iraq and Afghanistan, Native Americans have a long tradition of participation in the United States military. Their courage, determination, and fighting spirit were recognized by U.S. military leaders as early as the 18th century. Defending the Homeland: Native Americans in the United States Armed Forces: is a documentary that brings their stories to life. California's Pala Band of Mission Indians and the Pauma Band of Luiseno Indians have an especially illustrious history of military service. This film showcases their emotional battles both overseas as warriors and here at home as veterans.
Sunday, Nov. 10 @ 4:30PM: Choctaw Code Talkers
The Choctaw Soldiers were the original Code Talkers during World War I, a story which has been buried in history for nearly a hundred years. With testimonies from family members and Choctaw tribal leaders, the program brings a unique perspective to these forgotten heroes and their wartime contributions.
Thursday, Nov. 14 @ 10:30PM: Injunuity
Injunuity is a collage of reflections on the Native American world, including our shared past, turbulent present, and undiscovered future. From Columbus to the western expansion to tribal casinos, we are taught that the Native way, while at times glorious, is something of the past, something that needed to be replaced by a manifest destiny from across the ocean. But in a world increasingly short of real answers, it is time we looked to Native wisdom for guidance. It is time for some 'injunuity.' Injunuity is a mix of animation, music, and real thoughts from real people exploring our world from the Native American perspective. Every word spoken is verbatim, every thought and opinion is real, told in nine short pieces and covering such topics as language preservation, sacred sites, and the environment. But rather than simply revisit our history, the goal of Injunuity is to help define our future, to try and figure out the path that lies before us, to focus on where we are going as well as where we have been.
Friday, Nov. 15 @ 9PM: Racing the Rez
For the Navajo and Hopi, running is much more than a sport, it is woven into the cultural fabric of their lives. Encouraged by their elders, many Navajos and Hopis begin running at an early age - to greet the morning sun, to prepare for a ceremony or simply to challenge themselves in the vast, southwestern landscape. In the rugged canyon lands of Northern Arizona, Navajo and Hopi cross-country runners from two rival high schools vie for the state championship while striving to find their place among their native people and the larger American culture. Win or lose, what they learn over the course of two racing seasons has a dramatic effect on the rest of their lives. Combining interviews with verite-style shooting, Racing the Rez offers a rare view into the surprising complexity and diversity of contemporary reservation life, from the point of view of five teenage boys on the cusp of adulthood. The documentary follows Ryan, Dennis, Billy, Johnny and Joyai from the classrooms to their remote, un-electrified homes, from grueling runs across canyons and mesas to their ultimate day of reckoning - the state meet - and beyond.
Friday, Nov. 29 @ 9PM: Apache 8
Apache 8 tells the story of an all-women wildland firefighter crew from the White Mountain Apache Tribe who have been fighting fires in Arizona and throughout the U.S., for more than 30 years. The film delves into the challenging lives of these Native firefighters. Four extraordinary women from different generations of the Apache 8 crew share their personal narratives with humor and tenderness. They speak of hardship and loss, family and community, and pride in being a firefighter from Fort Apache. This documentary weaves together a compelling tale of these remarkable firefighters, revealed for the first time.
In honor of Veterans Day on Nov. 11, 2013, KCET will showcase several inspiring programs dedicated to those who have served in the United States military. With emotional journeys that include stories of adversity, friendship, and heroism, KCET celebrates the selfless individuals who had the courage and strength to fight for our country.
Monday, Nov. 4 @ 9PM: Maggie's War: A True Story of Courage, Leadership, & Valor in WWII
James Megellas, affectionately known as "Maggie," led H-Company of the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment through some of the most horrific battles and deadliest missions of World War II, including the Battle of Anzio, Operation Market Garden and the Battle of the Bulge. Maggie's War chronicles the evolution of a citizen into a fearless platoon leader, and the transformation of a young man into the most highly decorated officer in the history of the famed 82nd Airborne Division. Seven decades later, cameras follow Megellas, now a retired Lieutenant Colonel, on an emotional return to Europe with a small group of family, friends and 82nd Airborne veterans. Together they visit old battlefields and war memorials and encounter Dutch citizens still grateful for their sacrifice.
Friday, Nov. 8 @ 8PM: Killing Memories
Killing Memories follows five American war veterans who served together in Vietnam 40 years ago as they reunite to tour battlefields, meet former enemies and confront ghosts of their past. Though the film is focused on overcoming old wounds, it resonates loudly in the present, as America continues fighting wars and sending her children into battle.
Friday, Nov. 8 @ 9:30PM: Ted Bell and the Ridge
Retired Col. Ted Bell became The Citadel's most decorated World War II veteran for his valor in holding a rugged ridge on the Pacific island of Okinawa. But the deaths of so many of his men in his Easy Company of the 77th Infantry Division weighed on his mind as the decades passed. Holding the place near Ishimmi Ridge over a tortuous three days of combat proved to be a decisive moment in the war in the Pacific, puncturing a hole in the Japanese's Shuri Line and clearing the way for the United States to win the island and use it for the planned invasion of Japan. Two months later, Japan surrendered after the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Saturday, Nov. 9 @ 4PM: We Served Too: The Story of the Women's Air Force
This is a story of a group of young, determined and courageous women during World War II who broke through barriers and shattered stereotypes: the Women's Air Force Service Pilots (WASPs). They were the first women pilots to ever fly for the United States military. However, after an aggressive campaign by male pilots who wanted the WASPs jobs during World War II, they were the only wartime unit that was denied military status by Congress and were sent home before the war was over and their job was done. Because the women were denied military status, the WASPs received no insurance or benefits during or after the war, and if a WASP died during training or while on a mission, their families were not allowed to put a service star in the window, nor could the WASPs receive a military burial. It wasn't until the middle of the 1970s that they would be recognized as World War II veterans, and it wasn't until 2010, that the United States government would recognize those women who died during their service and the surviving WASPs would receive the congressional gold medal. We Served Too provides a firsthand account from WASPs who tell their story and discuss their experiences during the three pivotal periods that make up the WASP history. WASP experts and family members also share their personal stories and expert knowledge.
Monday, Nov. 11 @ 9PM: The Last Ridge
On a freezing winter night in February 1945, the U.S. Army's 10th Mountain Division accomplished the impossible: they scaled a 2,000-foot cliff in northern Italy to knock the seemingly invincible Germans from their impenetrable perch. The Last Ridge recounts the remarkable story of the legendary 10th Mountain Division, whose extraordinary efforts turned the tide for the Allied forces in Italy, revolutionized winter mountain warfare abroad, transformed winter sports and inspired an entire generation of soldiers. Narrated by National Public Radio's Scott Simon, the documentary traces the 10th Mountain Division's history: from their uphill battles in World War II to their current campaigns in troubled Afghanistan.
This November 22, we arrive at the fiftieth anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy. The events of that grim day in Dallas have continued to shape the way we live, even five decades later. On the night of Friday, November 22, KCET explores some of these ways with two insightful documentaries.
On Nov. 22, 1963, the motorcade transporting President John F. Kennedy was met by thousands of citizens and hundreds of members of the press as it slowly made its way through downtown Dallas. Moments later, the president's assassination would forever change the country, the world and the landscape of broadcast journalism. Narrated by Emmy-winning newscaster Jane Pauley, "JFK: Breaking the News" focuses on media coverage of the national tragedy, with an insightful look at the emergence of television as the nation's primary source of breaking news information.
Based on Larry Sabato's book, "The Kennedy Half-Century" chronicles the impact and influence of John F. Kennedy's life, administration and tragic death on the general public, the media and every subsequent U.S. president. John F. Kennedy's legacy endured due to the early efforts of family and friends, Lyndon Johnson's "Great Society" programs, Ronald Reagan's tax cuts and Cold War strategies, Bill Clinton's infatuation with the 35th president, and the "twinning" of JFK and Barrack Obama in the 2008 presidential campaign. The compelling one-hour documentary features interviews with major political and media figures, including Bob Schieffer, Ron Reagan Jr., Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, Ari Fleischer, James Carville, Julian Bond, Andrew Bell and Larry Sabato, among others